Kilburn is an area of north
west London, England, which is
divided between three London Boroughs, Brent, Camden, and a small part in Westminster.
The main thoroughfare running
northwest-southeast is Kilburn High Road, part of the modern
which forms the
boundary between the boroughs of Brent and Camden. The road dates back to
pre-Roman times and is part of the Roman road known as Watling Street.
The town of Kilburn has its origins in a
12th century priory
on the banks of the
Kilburn Brook. Kilburn today is a busy London district which is
strongly associated with its dominant Irish Catholic
residents and Afro-Caribbean
and culture; giving it the highest Irish population of any London
area. However, it has also become very multicultural of late. The
area is identified in the London Plan
one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
High Road originated as an ancient
trackway, part of a Celtic route between
the settlements now known as Canterbury and St
, the route was paved. In Anglo-Saxon
times the road became known as Watling Street.
A paving stone commemorates the former
Wells on the corner of Belsize Road and the High Road
grew up on the banks of a stream which has been known variously as
Cuneburna, Kelebourne and Cyebourne,
which flows from Hampstead down through Hyde Park and into the River
The Red Lion, est.
It is suggested the name means either Royal
River or Cattle River ('Bourne
being an Anglo-Saxon word for 'river'). The river is known
today as the River
the 1850s it was piped underground and is now one of London's many
The name Kilburn was first recorded in 1134 as Cuneburna
referring to a priory
which had been built on
the site of the cell of a hermit known as Godwyn.Godwyn had built
his hermitage by the Kilburn river during the reign of Henry I
, and both his hermitage and the
priory took their name from the river. Kilburn Priory was a
community of Augustinian canonesses
. It was founded in 1134 at the Kilburn
river crossing on Watling Street (the modern-day junction of
Kilburn High Road and Belsize Road). Kilburn Priory's
position on Watling Street meant that it became a popular resting
point for pilgrims heading for the shrines
Albans and Willesden.
The Priory was dissolved in 1536 by
, and nothing
remains of it today.
The priory lands included a mansion and a hostium
guesthouse), which may have been the origin of the Red Lion pub,
thought to have been founded in 1444. Opposite, the Bell Inn was
opened around 1600, on the site of the old mansion.
The fashion for taking 'medicinal waters' in the 18th century came
to Kilburn when a well of chalybeate
waters (water impregnated with iron) was discovered near the Bell
Inn in 1714. In an attempt to compete with the nearby
Hampstead Well, gardens and a 'great room' were opened to
promote the well, and its waters were promoted in journals of the
day as cure for 'stomach ailments':
In the 19th century the wells declined, but the Kilburn Wells
remained popular as a tea garden. The Bell was demolished and
rebuilt in 1863, the building which stands there today.
Kilburn stretch of Watling Street, now called Edgware Road and Kilburn High Road, was gradually built up with
inns and farm houses. However, despite the discovery of a
medicinal well in 1714, and the creation of gardens and a fine room
to exploit the water, Kilburn did not attract any significant
building until around 1819 in the area near St John's
has a number of different ethnic groups, including people of
Irish, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Somali
Because the area is split between more than one
London borough, statistics are gathered from different parts of
Kilburn area is most strongly associated with its Irish and
populations and cultures; 13% of the population were born in
Ireland with an even higher percentage of Irish descent,
giving it the highest Irish population of any London area.
The Irish presence is evident in Irish community activities, Irish
pubs (many of which attract custom by screening Gaelic games
), local GAA
sports clubs, newsagents
selling a wide range of Irish
, and the annual St
celebrations in the area. Kilburn's Irish
connections have earned it the nicknames "Little Éire", and "County
The 2007 Irish-language film Kings
has also been associated with
Kilburn and is based on Jimmy
's play The Kings of the Kilburn High
Kilburn High Road
Kilburn High Road is the main road in Kilburn. It follows a part of
the line of the Roman Iter II route which later took the
Anglo-Saxon name Watling Street. This was based on an earlier Celtic route from Verlamion to Durovernum Cantiacorum, modern day St Albans and Canterbury.
roughly north-west to south-east, it forms the boundary between the
London boroughs of Camden (to the east) and Brent (to the west). It is a section of
Road (which is in turn part of Watling Street), between Shoot Up
Hill and Maida
four railway stations in Kilburn High Road: Kilburn tube
station (Jubilee Line) at its
northern end, then Brondesbury station (London
Overground, on the North London
Line), shortly south of this. Approximately
1.25 km (nearly a mile) further south is Kilburn High
Road station (also London Overground, on the Watford DC
Line). There is also Kilburn Park
tube station, on the Bakerloo Line,
which is just off the High Road and very close to the High Road
space of Kilburn
Grange Park is located to the east side of Kilburn High
Gaumont State Cinema
A notable landmark in Kilburn High Road is the Grade II* listed Art
Gaumont State Cinema, designed by George Coles
and opened in 1937. It
was then the biggest auditorium in Europe, with seating for 4,004
people. For the past 20 years, the building has been run as a bingo
hall by Mecca Bingo
. However, the
bingo hall has now closed, and the building and surrounding site
have been put up for sale. The building is now owned by Ruach
Ministries, a fast-growing Evangelical church led by Bishop John
Anthony Francis and Co-Pastor Penny Francis.
The Tricycle Theatre
In 1980 the Tricycle Theatre
opened in a converted Forester's Hall in Buckley Road. The Tricycle
is a renowned arts centre, including a gallery, cinema and theatre,
located in the High Road. In the mid-2000s the centre achieved some
fame for its theatrical staging of politically significant court
cases, and for a production about the US detention centre at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which
subsequently transferred to the West End, and in due course to New York City.
Reflecting the cutlturally diverse local
community of Kilburn, the Tricycle theatre presents many
international pieces and films, usually in original language with
English subtitles. As an institution the Tricycle furthermore
supports different social including educational programmes.
south, the Kilburn skyline is dominated by the Gothic spire of St.
Completed in 1880 by the architect John Loughborough Pearson
church has an ornate Victorian interior, a carved stone reredos and
screen and stained glass, adjacent to its partners, St Augustine's
Primary and Secondary
. The church is sometimes nicknamed "the
Cathedral of North
London" due to its size - at the time of construction, it
was the third-largest place of worship in London, after St Paul's
Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Location in context
Area around Kilburn station
The 1915 Kilburn Park tube
Nearest tube stations
Nearest railway stations
Kilburn is served by many bus routes that go along the High Road.
Most routes come south from Cricklewood, and serve various points
in central and west London.
- Kilburn is the home of Kilburn Gaels Hurling Club.
- Kilburn is also home to Kilburn Cosmos RFC, one of the few
rugby clubs in inner London.
- South Kilburn Football Club play in the Hellenic Football
league and will be pushing for promotion in the 2009/2010
- One of the 12 founder members of the Football Association was formed
in Kilburn in 1863. It was referred to as the N.N. Club or N.N.
Kilburn, "N.N." being thought to stand for "Non Name". It supplied
the first president of the Football Association.